Busy Friday for the Blue Jays. First, they went out and beat New York in Yankee Stadium, 6-1 in 11 innings. The victory put an end to a brutal five game losing streak, and also saw them score more than five runs in a game – a rarity since the calendar turned to June. Second, Cito showed signs of life, with his first ejection since August of 2009 – also at Yankee Stadium. Third, and most important for this piece, Alex Anthopoulos made several roster moves. For a more detailed account and analysis, I urge you to read Jays beat writer Jordan Bastian’s account here. But while you’re here, why not read my no-holds barred opinion on what went down yesterday?
First the Marcum injury (15-Day DL – right elbow inflammation). Looking at it optimistically I can see two good points. One is the fact that the injury does not appear to be serious. According to the Jays, the All-Star break should be enough time for him to rest and heal, meaning he should be back at full strength post break. Considering the All-Star game itself is only a week-and-a-half away that is good news. Second is the fact that Marcum is injured and simply not struggling. You never want to see a player go down, but in this case it is a little bit reassuring that we now have an explanation for his drop in performance. From his start on June 2 through his start on Canada Day, Marcum has struggled to the tune of a 2-3 record, 5.24 ERA, and a 1.46 WHIP, while only averaging less than 6 innings per start. Very un-Marcum like. Hopefully he’ll come back with a vengeance.
But there are also two negatives about the Marcum injury. The first is obvious. SHAUN MARCUM IS INJURED! Our opening day, and most consistent, starter. Our ace. Our stopper who dominates after Jays losses. The other negative is that Toronto now has to replace him. To do that, AA called up Marc Rzepzcynski from Vegas. As I pointed out in Monday’s Weekly Things column, Rzep was starting to pitch better at Triple-A (including a win with 2 ER in 5 IP on Monday). But Jessie Litsch is still wildly inconsistent and could possibly use some more time in the minors – now impossible. Rzep’s call up was supposed to be out of convenience. Now it is out of necessity. Very dangerous.
The second series of moves made by Anthopoulos saw a role reversal. Edwin Encarnacion was recalled, forcing Jarrett Hoffpauir back to Vegas. Jeremy Reed was granted free agency to make room for EE’s return to the 40-man roster. I don’t care about the jettisoning of Reed. He was at best a spare part, didn’t prove he could hit while he was here, and basically has no purpose on the roster now that DeWayne Wise is back. It’s the Encarnacion recall that concerns me the most.
Sure Hoffpauir didn’t do a whole lot up here (.214 average, 0 HR, 0 RBI). But baseball is a game of sample sizes. Hoff was only given 9 games and 28 at-bats to prove he belonged – clearly not enough to time to become acclimatized to his new surroundings, teammates, and AL pitching. Similarly, EE destroyed minor league pitching but did so in an extreme hitters league, and with a very small sample size – 7 games, 32 AB. The numbers were good, don’t get me wrong (.438 average, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 1.267 OPS). But one look at his production in the majors (120 AB, .200 average, .765 OPS) is enough to bring tears to a Jays fans eyes. He also committed five errors in those seven games in AAA to go along with the seven he made in Toronto. By comparison Hoff had zero in 27 chances.
I’m not trying to argue against Anthopoulos. I understand that Encarnacion has a better upside and more potential. I understand that Toronto’s offense has gone AWOL and they need a spark to get them going. I just question whether EE is the one who can provide that spark, considering he was one of the main culprits who helped put the fire out in the first place. Who knows – maybe he can catch fire, do just enough to increase his trade value, and we can get him the hell out of here. Judging from a Twitter response to an informal poll conducted by Jordan Bastian, Jays fans sure hope so (40-8 in favour of never wanting to see EE in a Jays uniform again).
One final note – while many Jays fans are starting to get louder in support of calling up Vegas catcher JP Arencibia (.313 average, 19 HR, 52 RBI), a move was made elsewhere involving a past Toronto “catcher of the future”. Boston reacquired Kevin Cash from Houston to replace Jason Varitek on the roster (out with a broken foot). How Cash, with his lifetime .187 batting average and .539 OPS can still find meaningful employment in the major leagues is beyond me.